Friday, June 05, 2009

Mary Stanton Visits MBN to Discuss Memorable Character Development

Angel's Advocate by Mary Stanton

Mystery Books News is thrilled to welcome Mary Stanton, who is on tour this week to promote the second mystery in her Beaufort and Company series, Angel's Advocate.

In Angel's Advocate, Savannah attorney Brianna "Bree" Winston-Beaufort is back to business unusual. With her most peculiar (a.k.a. “dead”) clientele and her anything-but-angelic staff, Bree finds that money’s a bit tight at Beaufort & Company. After all, while the dead certainly need Bree’s help in appealing to a higher court, they’re not exactly paying clients. Bree finally lands a case to help pay the bills when she is hired to represent Lindsey Chandler, a spoiled teenager accused of stealing a Girl Scout’s cookie money. But this isn’t exactly a case of petty theft, since Lindsey allegedly tried to run over said Girl Scout with her Hummer. And if that weren’t bad enough, Lindsey is anything but remorseful, making this case – and Bree, by association – the talk of Savannah.

Mary’s career as a fiction writer began with the publication of her first novel, The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West, in 1984. Mary sold her first mystery to the Berkley Publishing Group in 1994, and has since published three series with them under the nom de plume Claudia Bishop. The Beaufort and Company mysteries are the first to be published under her real name.

With over 30 books to her credit, Mary wanted to share with our readers how she develops characters. To be sure, the characters in Angel's Advocate and its predecessor, Defending Angels, are both unique and (literally) extraordinary.

Great fiction begins with great characters, Mary says. Every story rises and falls on its characters. Below is an excellent exercise I use myself, which is designed to help create memorable characters.

Answer the following questions as rapidly as you can. If you stop to think, you may end up editing yourself, and that’s not good at this stage of the game!

1. Is your character male or female?
2. How old is your character?
3. How tall?
4. What color eyes?
5. What color hair?
6. What is your character’s full name?
7. Where did he/she go to school?
8. How does your character earn a living?
9. Does your character have brothers and sisters? Who are they? What are their names?
10. Does your character have parents? Who are they? What are their names? Are they alive or dead?
11. Does your character have special skills? What are they?
12. Does your character have hobbies or recreational things to do? What are they?
13. Name two of your character’s closest friends.
14. Where does your character live?
15. What is your character’s greatest love?
16. What is your character’s greatest fear?
17. What person/thing does your character hate the most?
18. If your character had dinner party—who would be there?
19. If your character could change one thing about him/herself—what would it be?
20. Who is your character’s hero?

We are thrilled to announce that Mary Stanton is giving away a signed copy of her book, Angel’s Advocate, to one lucky tour visitor. Go to Mary’s book tour page,, enter your name, e-mail address, and this PIN, 6670, for your chance to win. Entries from this blog site will be accepted until 12:00 Noon (PT) tomorrow. No purchase is required to enter or to win. The winner (first name only) will be announced on Mary’s book tour page next week.

A very special Thank You from MBN to Mary Stanton for visiting us today and sharing some insight on character development. Please be sure to visit all the host sites on Mary's tour this week.

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1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love this post. As a language arts teacher, I will try this acivity with my middle school students! Sounds like speed is the key - never would have thought of that. Thanks MBN for posting!



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